”The big question that needs to be asked is can this team transfer todays form into the minor games? It is ok motivating yourself for the big games, but if you can’t be assed against Stoke… what is the point?’
That quote was taken from the bottom of my Manchester United match report. Unlike some, I refused to get carried away with that result… I said to a Grover before that match that we’d win against the Old Trafford outfit and create a false horizon… then the cracks would appear at a later date. I must admit though, I didn’t expect us to run into trouble so soon after the last two results.
Today, without a doubt is the most disappointing result of the season. Aston Villa are a good team, I am not denying that but we are supposed to be one of the best in the country… plus, we’ve just come off the back of two decent results. The first team should have been brimming with confidence and eager to prove to the faithful that they are indeed, worthy of their places.
Sadly, there was no such determination.
I don’t think you can knock the coach. He picked the same team that beat the Champions, he made his subs fairly early in the game and we didn’t have a Champions league game in mid week. So what went wrong?
Well, for me… it all boils down to desire again. If there is no doubt about the quality and ability, it simply has to come down to attitude and desire.
I’ll list the main offenders:
Cesc: So at the start of the season we knew Cesc was playing badly and we blamed Euro 2008… then he continued to play poorly, so we blamed Denilson… Now Denilson is playing well, who the hell do we blame? He looks lost on the pitch and he doesn’t seem particularly interested in fighting for the club. As an Arsenal fan, I don’t give a rats arse what your name is… if you’re not playing well, you should be dropped in place of someone who will play well. Cesc is playing badly… and he needs to be dropped. Ramsey, regardless of his age would have put in a better performance today. British players are flawed in many ways, but there is always fight in them. I’m not seeing any fight from Cesc this season.
Nik B: I’ve been a staunch defender of the big Dane. Today I felt really let down by him… He was man marked by Davies, but he didn’t offer anything to the midfield in the game. He wasn’t looking for the ball and he didn’t challenge for anything… correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t remember him having a shot? I know the lone striker role is difficult to play at such a young age… but more often than not he had support… be it Diaby or Theo. If you are fighting for a place in the team with Adebayor… you try your bollocks off, Nik didn’t… and everyone in the stadium could see that.
Almunia: He made a great save from a penalty in the first half… but his flapping has started again. If Fabianski were selected you can bet your bottom dollar Clichy wouldn’t have turned that ball into the net… because he would have claimed it. I also think for the second goal, Gallas did everything correctly… and it was up to Almunia to keep the shot out at his near post. The shot was hardly ripped was it? A very average performance from a top 4 keeper.
Theo: Ok, so how long am I going to kid myself about Theo and his contribution? He was terrible today and for me… all this talk of a £60k a week contract is a bit premature. He is living off the back of his England performance because to be fair… he has never done that for Arsenal on a consistent basis. He was poor today… constantly running up blind alleys and making the wrong decisions. If he wants to play in the big leagues he has to start finding some consistency becuase at the moment, Arsenal aren’t getting enough from him. The one positive I will take from Theo today is that he never stop working hard for the team… unlike certain others. He is also playing out of position… but when you’ve been playing out of position for a year… you can’t really have any complaints. Thierry went from winger, to striker… back to winger. The best players adapt.
I thought there were some great performances out there today… I thought Denilson had a stormer. He was all over the park this afternoon… he tackled, he passed and he carried Cesc for large parts of the game. I thought he looked like a bit of a leader today, that of course is open to debate.
I thought the centre backs were top notch as well. Gallas and Silvestre really played well. Silvestre is your no nonsense type defender, his motto would be ‘if in doubt, boot it out’ and Gallas played in a more composed and thoughtful way. He looks calmer with Silvestre by his side.
Diaby looked pretty sparky in a crowded midfield. He is the most accomplished player on the ball in that Arsenal team… some of his on the ball skill is nothing short of outrageous. I’d be quite happy to see him pair up with Denilson in the middle of the park… with 2 inform strikers to feed, he could be a different beast.
Adebayor showed why he is Arsenal number one when he came on… his energy, power and aggression could have been utilised a bit better had he started the game. Eduardo will be fit soon… so hopefully we can find some more potency up front because from where I am sitting… we look pretty woeful at the moment.
On a more sour note… the fans started streaming out early doors tonight. The stadium was almost 3/4 empty by the time the final whistle was blown. I guess the fans think, if they can’t be fucked… why should I? There was a chorus of boos to top off a crap afternoon. I’m not a fan of that… but people are paying serious wedge to see a lot of average, ‘I don’t give a fuck’ type performances.
If you’re not happy as a fan… how else are you expected to express your displeasure? Oh… and before people start… don’t give me all this plastic fans bollocks. In Milan, if the fans are unsatisfied they turn the backs and hold a silent protest. In Spain, if Madrid or Barca fans are upset… they wave white hankeys. No one ever calls their fans plastic do they? They are just passionate about being anti-average.
Any boos yesterday shouldn’t have been directed at the coach (I don’t think they were)… they should have been directed to the players. Many of them were devoid of passion and heart yesterday… and I feel sorry for Wenger because he put his reputation on the line to back that crop of kids. Again… we know they can turn it on for the big games, but when it comes to digging out a performances against the not so glamourous teams… we are found wanting.
Booing isn’t an acceptable practice… but earning £30k a week in a recession and not giving your all for the shirt is also not acceptable. Fans are not stupid, they know effort when they see it… and they’ll always forgive a poor result if the players put there all in… I didn’t feel we saw that yesteday…. what did you think?
So… after a week of basking in the sunshine of a false horizon… we are back where we started, our title challenge is in tatters and our first team squad are not capable of giving 100%. Martin O’neil has a squad of just above average players… but he gets 110% out of them. If Wenger could work the same magic with his kids, we’d win the league. Motivating a bunch of young mercenaries must come with it’s own set of troubles though… they’ve been earning great dough since the age of 15 and they think they’ve made it.
How do you rectify that? Well… I’d kick their ego’s into touch… either by introducing a couple of the kids… or buying some serious talent in January. Nothing like a bit of competition for your place is there?
What to do, what to do….
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments section!